Regulation of the actin cytoskeleton in cancer cell migration and invasion

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 May;1773(5):642-52. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2006.07.001. Epub 2006 Jul 14.


Malignant cancer cells utilize their intrinsic migratory ability to invade adjacent tissues and the vasculature, and ultimately to metastasize. Cell migration is the sum of multi-step processes initiated by the formation of membrane protrusions in response to migratory and chemotactic stimuli. The driving force for membrane protrusion is localized polymerization of submembrane actin filaments. Recently, several studies revealed that molecules that link migratory signals to the actin cytoskeleton are upregulated in invasive and metastatic cancer cells. In this review, we summarize recent progress on molecular mechanisms of formation of invasive protrusions used by tumor cells, such as lamellipodia and invadopodia, with regard to the functions of key regulatory proteins of the actin cytoskeleton; WASP family proteins, Arp2/3 complex, LIM-kinase, cofilin, and cortactin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cofilin 1 / metabolism
  • Cofilin 2 / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pseudopodia / physiology
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Cofilin 1
  • Cofilin 2
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein